Posts Tagged «group selection»

On page 85 of Jame5 I point out that:

“Culture is the byproduct of an animal’s acceptance of a shared moral-ethical meme complex to enable social collaboration in large groups.”

Later in the book I broaden the concept of a ‘moral-ethical meme complex’ to include all kinds of beliefs and assert that said shared beliefs are fitness indicators relevant for inter group competition. As a consequence groups with fitter belief systems prosper while groups with unfit belief systems either adapt or perish. For a quick introduction to my thoughts on this issue I suggest reading my paper on friendly AI theory or Jame5 pages 69 and following.

In genetics the concept of group selection is controversial at best. On the memetic level however it becomes intuitively obvious. Let me explain:

With the advent of human thought the focus of evolution shifted away from a genetic level and moved to an evolution of ideas and concepts about the world that gave rise to new ideas etc. The genes, dominant fitness determining information-carrying vehicles up to that point became secondary.

The decisive difference between the Homo Sapiens and other primates was the particularly useful ability to transfer these memes to other members of the group, including their young, by effective communication in the form of speech.

From that time forward, evolution on the genetic level slowly began to retreat and eventually became secondary as fitness indicators in humans as memes started to have an ever larger impact in determining an individual’s fitness in the group as well as on an inter group level. The evolution of memes went on though the Stone Age and various metal ages on a material level until it shifted toward harnessing more energy with the first steam engine in the late eighteenth century. What followed was the Industrial Revolution. Then came the first computers that eventually triggered the Information Age.

In summary: Human groups act as super organisms on the basis of shared beliefs with evolution continuing on the level of beliefs (memes).

Example: Captitalism vs Communism
The cold war was a period of conflict between two groups with largely different belief systems. In the blue corner mostly capitalist democracies and in the red corner mostly communist dictatorships. Capitalism eventually ‘won’ as its belief system happened to allocate resources with alternative uses more efficiently and effectively. By now the former eastern block largely abandoned the less fit ideology and is moving on.

Example: Market Economy
In market economies companies can be seen as groups competing for the scarce resource money. A company’s culture, policies, processes, intellectual property are its beliefs and its staff form that companies embodiment as a group. Companies compete in the market place, act, adapt, learn and form alliances. Those with fitter belief systems survive and flourish while those that are less fit go bankrupt and ‘die’.

And so evolution continues.